Monday, March 11, 2013

The Return of The Thin White Dave

Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway topped Saturday's ratings with an impressive audience early viewing figures indicate. The cheeky-chappie-doon-the-Bigg-Market Geordie duo's ITV format, which took a three-year hiatus until returning last month, averaged 6.48 million, a twenty nine per cent share of the available audience, between 7pm and 8.30pm. Opposite that, on BBc1, the Let's Dance for Comic Relief final, won by Coronation Street's Antony Cotton, pulled in but 4.55m in the same time slot - its lowest ever audience for a series climax. Saturday Night Takeaway, meanwhile, looks set to be recommissioned by ITV after the show has far exceeded the target set by Ant and/or Dec's previous rubbish formats Push the Button and Red or Black? Elsewhere in ITV's schedule, You've Been Framed was watched by 3.41m before Takeaway, while 4.02m watched The Cube at 8.30pm and The Jonathan Ross Show capped a better-than-usual night for the commercial broadcaster with three million punters. However, BBC1 still found the edge to defeat its rival with In It to Win It and Casualty both posting slot-winning audiences of 4.91m and 4.89m after Let's Dance. On BBC2, the premiere of the movie Made in Dagenham took an impressive 2.29m from 9pm, prior to which a classic Dad's Army had an audience of two million. Meanwhile, Channel Four's movie Skyline could only muster eight hundred and forty thousand punters. A Foyle's War repeat brought in 1.1m for ITV3 between 9pm and 11pm, meaning the digital channel elevated itself to the fourth most-watched in primetime ahead of both Channel Four and Channel Five. Overall, BBC1 led primetime with 21.1 per cent of the audience share, beating ITV's 19.6 per cent.

Twatting About On Ice's eighth series concluded with 6.69 million overnight viewers on Sunday. The show's ratings have been very underwhelming in comparison to previous series, but it still managed to collect an overall audience share of twenty four per cent between 7pm and 9pm to see Olympian Beth Tweddle win the competition. The series, which has had a lacklustre year in the ratings, was down on the 7.3 million who watched the final last year and a long way off its best-ever final of 11.7 million viewers in 2008. ITV's Mr Selfridge bowed out with 5.32m while, earlier in the evening, The Scum and Moscow Chelski's FA Cup Quarter-Final was watched by up 5.33m from 4pm. England's unconvincing 18-11 win over Italy in the Six Nations rugby, averaged 4.9 million viewers on BBC1 between 2.20pm and 5pm with a five-minute peak of 6.3m. Also on BBC1, Call The Midwife still proved to be Sunday night's biggest hit with 8.59 million from 8pm. The period drama provided a strong lead-in for new BBC crime drama Shetland, starring Douglas Henshall, which had a very healthy audience of 6.37m at 9pm. Later in the evening, Match Of The Day - including yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies overcoming Dirty Stoke with a deserved late winner - was watched by 2.48 million. It was a terrific night all round for BBC1 with Countryfile, which welcomed Prince Charles as its guest editor to celebrate its twenty fifth anniversary programme, drawing 7.2m viewers between 7pm and 8pm. Top Gear remains ever-popular on BBC2, the second part of Jezza, Hamster and Cap'n Slow's series-closing African special drawing a whopping 6.01 million at 8pm (including 1.28 million viewers on BBC HD). Toughest Place To Be A Taxi Driver had 2.27 million at 9pm. Not even the nation's sweetheart, Clare Balding, presenting it could help Channel Four's coverage of Crufts to more than a piss-poor average audience of 1.64 million from 5.30pm, while Secrets Of The Stonehenge Skeletons had 1.66 million at 8pm and Limitless was seen by 1.52 million at 9pm. Channel Five had an audience of six hundred and sixty seven thousand for Rocky II at 6.30pm. The Only Way Is Essex's ratings are not as high as they used to be for ITV2 - cause, perhaps, for a slight restoration of faith in the viewing public - only collecting eight hundred and twenty eight thousand sad crushed victims of society, while the last ever Being Human was watched by five hundred and sixty thousand. Call The Midwife ended its second series with an overnight series average of 8.93 million per episode, up about four hundred thousand on last year. Mr Selfridge ends with an overnight series average of 5.75 million.
And, speaking of ratings, here are the final and consolidated figures for the Top Twenty Three programmes week-ending 3 March 2012:-
1 Call The Midwife - Sun BBC1 - 10.68m
2 Coronation Street - 10.26m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.97m
4 Emmerdale - 7.75m
5 Mayday - Sun BBC1 - 7.68m
6 Death In Paradise - Tues BBC1 - 7.50m
7 Top Gear - Sun BBC2/BBC HD - 7.33m
8= Twatting About On Ice - Sun ITV - 7.30m
8= Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway - Sat ITV - 7.30m
10 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.20m
11 Mr Selfridge - Sat BBC1 - 6.67m
12 Her Majesty's Prison: Aylesbury - 5.71m
13 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.70m
14 National Lottery: In It To Win It - Sat BBC1 - 5.54m
15 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.51m
16= Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 5.00m
16= All Star Family Fortunes - Sat ITV - 5.00m*
18 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.95m
19 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.93m
20 Let's Dance For Comic Relief - Sat BBC1 - 4.74m
21 Penguins: Spy in the Huddle - Mon BBC1 - 4.71m
22 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBc1 - 4.70
23 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.64

A special Doctor Who edition of BBC quiz Celebrity Pointless is to be shown later this month. The one-off will be broadcast on Saturday 23 March at 6pm on BBC1 - one week before Doctor Who returns to our screens. Famous faces from Doctor Who putting their obscure knowledge to the test include Sylvester McCoy with Sophie Aldred and Bernard Cribbins paired with Jacqueline King. They will face Nicola Bryant playing with Andrew Hayden-Smith and Louise Jameson alongside Frazer Hines. Alexander Armstrong will host, with co-presenter Richard Osman receiving some robotic assistance in the form of K9. Sounds ghastly.
Yer actual Toby Whithouse has dismissed rumours that he is 'in line' to replace The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat as Doctor Who's showrunner. The Being Human creator told SFX that while he would be 'tempted' by the job should such an offer be made, reports linking him to Moffat's post are 'just speculation.' He said: 'I have heard the rumours. I've been hearing them for years now. In terms of my future on Doctor Who, this kind of speculation only takes place in the heads of the fans. I'm going to be busy doing [new BBC1 spy drama] The Game for however long that lasts and I think Steven is doing incredible work on Doctor Who and I'd much rather he stay there.' Whithouse claimed that he has 'genuinely no idea' if the BBC would ever select him to replace Moffat as the popular family SF drama's head writer when the time comes. 'No-one from the BBC has said anything to me,' he insisted. 'I'd be lying if I said I wasn't intrigued by the idea, but also it would be terrifying. It's definitely something I'd be really tempted by but I'm genuinely not in any hurry to do it.'

Whithouse has also spoken about Being Human's somewhat ambiguous final episode. The cult drama ended on a twist, with the final scene implying that the happy ending experienced by the show's heroes may have been an illusion. 'I wanted the ending to be slightly open-ended so there is something there for the fans to imagine,' Whithouse told SFX. 'It's deliberately ambiguous. Are they trapped in one of Captain Hatch's dreams or did they escape? I think I know what the answer is, but I could be wrong, and to be honest after the credits roll I've got no say in the matter any more. After the credits roll the characters belong to the fans, and it's up to them.' The showrunner explained that he wanted to leave the characters of Hal (Damien Molony), Tom (Michael Socha) and Alex (Kate Bracken) with 'a slightly incomplete story. I wanted there to be room for further adventures and further journeys and so on,' he explained. 'I want the future of the characters to belong to the fans.' However, Whithouse also revealed that an extra scene - to be included on the DVD release of Being Human's final series - will provide a more 'definitive' ending to the show. 'On the DVD, there will be an extra scene that takes place about a week after the end of the series,' he said. 'After that, the answer is pretty definitive. If you believe that the characters are stuck in one of Captain Hatch's dreams it's quite a bleak ending. And so if that's your take on that last scene then that's a bit of a bleak way to leave five years of the show, so the DVD scene will address that.'

BBC Four has announced two new international drama acquisitions for 2013. Swedish crime series Arne Dahl - based on a collection of five novels - revolves around a tight-knit team of elite specialists who investigate the dark side of society. Four-part Italian drama Inspector Da Luca - which charts the exploits of its 'brutal and uncompromising' lead character in Bologna - has also been acquired.

Zoe Tapper has revealed that she will not be returning for the second series of ITV period drama Mr Selfridge. The actress confirmed the news after the final episode of the drama's first series had aired. 'This is me bidding Ellen Love a fond farewell. It was a blast,' she wrote. 'Not back for series two. Ellen was only ever a one series gal.' Tapper's character was a love interest throughout the first series for Jeremy Piven's Harry Selfridge. In this weekend's series finale, Ellen gained revenge on Selfridge for spurning her romantic advances by taking part in a theatre production which mocked the American businessman. ITV has already confirmed that Mr Selfridge will be back for another series in 2014, describing the show as 'ITV drama at its best.' It is ITV's most-watched new drama since Scott & Bailey launched in 2011. The second series, which will once again be written by Andrew Davies and his team, will move the story forward to 1914 and the lead-up to World War 1. Tapper's next project is the movie Blood, which stars Stephen Graham, Brian Cox (no, the other one), Mark Strong and Paul Bettany.

Cloud computing pioneer Piers Linney has been named as the new member of the Dragons' Den, replacing Theo Paphitis. Linney, the joint chief executive of Outsourcery, previously featured on TV in the Channel Four show Secret Millionaire. Linney will join regulars Duncan Bannatyne, Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden and another new Dragon, Kelly Hoppen. In the BBC2 show, business leaders hear pitches from entrepreneurs before deciding whether to invest. Linney said he was 'excited' and would 'widen the appeal of the Den to information economy entrepreneurs,' adding, 'they are key to the future success of the UK economy.' The qualified solicitor also worked as an investment banker and venture capital fund manager and was named in The Power List of the UK's one hundred most influential black Britons. His company Outsourcery was launched in 2007 and employs one hundred and fifty people across the UK. Executive producer Ceri Aston called Linney's story 'inspiring,' adding: 'Piers is a new breed of dragon. A young and dynamic digital entrepreneur, he has his finger on the pulse of an industry that has never been represented in the Den before.' Departing dragon Paphitis said: 'The time felt right to give up my seat, stop breathing fire and allow someone else to enjoy the wonderful experience of being a Dragon.' Haulage firm boss Hilary Devey left the show last year for her own Channel Four series and interior designer Kelly Hoppen was announced as a new dragon last month.

William Moody, better known to pro-wrestling fans as Paul Bearer, the pale-faced, urn-carrying manager for performers The Undertaker and Kane, has died. He was fifty eight. A spokesman for WWE wrestling said that Moody's family had notified the WWE of his death on Tuesday of last week. After stints in various independent wrestling promotions, Moody joined the WWE in 1990 and quickly became associated with The Undertaker, a character who claimed he was undead and boasted with mystical powers. The WWE said in a statement that Moody, 'went on to become a memorable part of WWE over the course of the next twenty years.' Paul Bearer later managed Undertaker's on-screen half-brother Kane. He also managed the bad-guy character Mick 'Mankind' Foley. Moody's contorted facial expressions and Vincent Pryce-style voice made him one of the sports-entertainment company's more popular personalities for more than a decade. In the outlandish world of pro-wrestling, Paul Bearer was once placed in a glass casket and buried in concrete. In his final WWE appearance last year, he was locked in a freezer by Randy Orton. It was a business Moody loved and was part of for nearly forty years. Many of his colleagues paid tribute to him on Wednesday on Twitter. Moody was a perfect fit as a macabre mortician. When he joined the WWE, he ditched the blond hair and Percy Pringle name he forged in the 1980s for black locks and a powdered white face. In the act, Paul Bearer's urn had some unexplained power that protected The Undertaker, allowing his protege to escape unscathed from every leg drop, forearm smash and big boot to the face. Paul Bearer also hosted the WWE segment, The Funeral Parlor. Moody, an Alabama native, told a pro-wrestling website last year that had a degree in mortuary science. He claimed he was a licensed funeral director and embalmer. He was called to WWE chairman Vince McMahon's office about taking the job as Undertaker's manager without the company knowing his true background. 'It was one those had-to-be-there moments when Vince realised I was the real thing,' Moody told the website. 'I was the real Undertaker.' Moody had battled health and weight problems and worked on and off for the company after 2002.

The sports commentator and presenter Tony Gubba, who spent much of his career with the BBC, has died following a short illness. Tony, who was sixty nine, joined BBC Sport in 1972 but, most recently, worked as a commentator on ITV series Twatting About On Ice following its launch in 2006. Having spent time as the Daily Mirra's North of England correspondent, Tony replaced David Coleman at the Beeb as the presenter of the midweek sports programme Sportsnight. He later went on to work on Match of the Day, both as commentator and presenter, and to introduce Grandstand as a stand-in for Frank Bough.Like his colleague Barry Davies, Tony was something of a sports all-rounder at the corporation, at home commentating on numerous sports including football, hockey, table-tennis, golf, tennis, bobsleigh, ski-jumping, darts and ice-skating. Tony also covered every Olympic Games, both summer and winter, from 1972 to 2012, as well as nine World Cups from 1974 to 2006. Tony is survived by his partner of fifteen years, Jenny, his two daughters, Claire and Libby and three granddaughters.

The great Tohoku earthquake in Japan two years ago was so big that its effects were even felt at the edge of space. Scientists say the Magnitude 9.0 tremor on 11 March 2011 sent a ripple of sound through the atmosphere that was picked up by the Goce satellite. Its super-sensitive instrumentation was able to detect the disturbance as it passed through the thin wisps of air still present two hundred and fifty five kilometres above the Earth. The observation is reported in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. It has long been recognised that major quakes will generate very low-frequency acoustic waves, or infrasound - a type of deep rumble at frequencies below those discernible to the human ear. But no spacecraft in orbit has had the capability to record them, until now. 'We've looked for this signal before with other satellites and haven't seen it, and I think that's because you need an incredibly fine instrument,' said Doctor Rune Floberghagen from the European Space Agency. 'Goce's accelerometers are about a hundred times more sensitive than any previous instrumentation and we detected the acoustic wave not once, but twice - passing through it over the Pacific and over Europe,' the mission manager told the BBC News website. Goce's prime purpose is to map very subtle differences in the pull of gravity across the surface of the Earth caused by the uneven distribution of mass within the planet. These variations produce almost imperceptible changes in the velocity of the satellite as it flies overhead and which it records with those high-precision accelerometers. This gravity signal is very weak, however, and that means Goce must fly incredibly low to sense it - so low, in fact, that it actually drags through the top of the atmosphere. It is these special circumstances that put the satellite in a position to detect the infrasonic disturbance on 11 March 2011. The acoustic waves perturbed the density of air molecules and changed their speed. It was the faintest of winds at an altitude of two hundred and fifty five kilometres, but strong enough to be registered by Goce. The ESA spacecraft encountered the signal as it passed over the Pacific some thirty minutes after the onset of the event, and then again twenty five minutes later as it moved across Europe. Because of the way the accelerometers are arranged in Goce, it was possible to reconstruct the detection in three dimensions and so confidently trace the infrasound back to its source - the earthquake. 'If you have a small ripple in density, it would be hard to conclude beyond any reasonable doubt that this was due to the earthquake,' explained Floberghagen. 'But the fact that we have a very significant density perturbation, with the shape predicted by all the acoustic models, and the fact that we picked it up again on the other side of the Earth where you would expect to find it - that's perfect.' Scientists can already study earthquakes from space, in particular through the use of radar to map the deformation of the ground that results when faults rupture. But it remains to be seen how useful an acoustic sensor placed in a low-Earth orbit might be. Tohoku was an exceptional event and this may explain why Goce, on this occasion, was able to pick it up. Buoyed by their success, however, scientists on the mission are checking through the satellite's data to see if an infrasonic signal was also recorded when an asteroid entered the atmosphere over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk last month. The entry's infrasound signature was certainly evident to listening stations on the ground. 'Ever since we've flown this type of instrument - accelerometers - in space, people have been looking for the acoustic beat from earthquakes, because that could be used to understand the way tremors propagate not only through the Earth but through the Earth environment. But just the idea of an acoustic sensor in space is pretty cool,' Floberghagen said. Goce itself is running low on fuel and is nearing the end of its mission. ESA will lower its orbit in June to below two hundred and thirty kilometres to try to obtain even finer detail on Earth's gravity field. The agency is then expected to command the satellite to come out of the sky and fall back to Earth in November.

A girl has dressed up in boys' clothing in order to sit an exam for her brother. Iqra in Lahore, Pakistan showed up to the examination hall pretending to be her sibling for a medical exam when she was caught. Her brother, studying to become a doctor, had been worried that he wouldn't be able to get the marks required to be admitted to a college to study medicine, and turned to his sister for help. However, Iqra was found out when the inspection team visited, reports the Daily Jang. The girl said afterwards that she had 'good intentions' and wanted to help her brother secure a better future.

It was only a matter of time, one supposes, before that odious fraction of a woman and notorious self-publicist Angie Barnett Bowie was going to crawl out from under a rock again, especially now that her ex-old man, Diamond David, is back on the charts. But, still, even by her own unique standards, this is a particularly tawdry and disappointing washing of dirty linen in public. Bowie's ex-missus has spoken - yet again - about the time she allegedly found the singer in bed with Mick Jagger. She claims that she discovered her ex-husband naked with The Rolling Stones singer in 1973. 'They were not only in bed together, they were naked,' she told the Sun. Crikey. People naked. In bed. Whatever next? They'll be taking drugs and becoming bi-sexual before you know it. Oh, hang on ... 'David Bowie's ex-wife has blasted the rock legend's musical comeback as she revealed the truth about their shocking sexual exploits,' according to the shit-stirring and wholly discredited scum tabloid who currently have about twenty of their reporters on police bail relating to, alleged, illegal activities of one sort or another. All of them deny the charges, of course. Also, 'the truth' are two interesting words for the Sun to be using. Lied about any dead Liverpool football fans whilst using that exact phrase, you louse scumbags? And, best of all, this is 'news', apparently. It might have been in 1973, it certainly isn't now. Long-term Bowie-watchers will, of course, know that Angie has sold, essentially, the same story (with a few minor variations) on several occasions previously, most notably when she has been trying to sell her two (count 'em) autobiographies, Free Spirit (1981, which included samples of the author's Christ-awful poetry) as well as the bestseller, Backstage Passes: Life On the Wild Side with David Bowie, published in 1993 and updated in 2000. 'My assistant was laughing in the kitchen when I got home. She said, "You won't believe this. David and Mick Jagger." I said, "Right then, put the kettle on." I went upstairs and banged on the door and said, "Morning! Ready for breakfast, boys?" I walked into the bedroom and David was there with all these pillows and duvets on top of him and on the other side of the bed was Mick's leg sticking out. I said: "Did you guys have a good night?" They were so hungover they could hardly speak. I took pity on them.' In recent years Angie has reinvented herself as a journalist, specialising in gender issues and is currently a staff reporter on the transgender lifestyle bi-monthly, Frock Magazine. It's interesting, therefore, to see her selling her claims of her husband's 'shocking sexual exploits' to a newspaper with such a fine and noble history of tolerance and sympathy towards alternative sexualities, is it not? David married the former model in 1970. He later called it 'the biggest mistake of my life.' They separated in the mid seventies and were officially divorced on 8 February 1980, in Switzerland. Angie later called it 'a marriage of convenience' for both, and took a divorce settlement of three hundred thousand smackers. Their son is Moon director Duncan Jones and, one imagines, he's absolutely thrilled to see his mum - on Mother's Day, no less - telling the world about what his dad allegedly used to get up to in the privacy of his own bedroom. Barnett also 'revealed' that the couple were almost late to their own wedding due a threesome. 'David was big on threesomes with both men and women,' she alleged. 'The whole nine yards. And I was right in there. The night before our wedding it was a mutual friend of ours. We went out for dinner, back to her place and had plenty of lively sex. We had a very late night and didn't go to bed until 3am or 4am. Then we woke up late in North London and had to be in Bromley by 10am to get married. We just about got there in time and staggered in. We saw David's mother Peggy and I thought, "Oh boy, this is not good." It was a bullshit romance. When he asked me to marry him, he said: "And I don't love you, by the way."' Talking about Bowie's sex life, she added: 'I watched David fuck everything that moved. In the first six weeks I knew him I met fourteen people he'd slept with. He had told me before we married he didn't love me, so of course he was not going to be faithful. As it was the sixties I suppose they called it free love.' Classy lady.
Anyway, dear blog reader, this very evening yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self will be celebrating the Diamond Dogs Joe Quimby-proclaimed International Bowie Day by attending Uncle Scunthorpe's special one-off Monday night Record Player at the Tyneside and listening to The Next Day, in full, through a decent sound system. Will it be 'the best one since Scary Monsters'? And, if not, why not? Just about every LP The Grand Dame her very self has released since about 1983 has been described thus by someone. Will the two - very good, let it be said - singles be the best things on it? Always possible, that. Stay tuned, dear blog reader, all will be revealed when From The North returns. Meanwhile, here's today's Keith Telly Topping's Downloaded 45 of the Day.

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